More

    Food security expert raises alarm on fresh produce availability in 2024

    (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

    Food shortages are “alarmingly likely” in 2024 as climate change, transportation issues and global conflicts continue to affect supplies, a food security expert has said, ahead of Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) which will bring new checks on goods coming into the UK from the EU at the end of January, further impacting food imports.

    According to Professor Chris Elliott, of Queen’s University Belfast, the supply of fruit and vegetables would be particularly affected. It follows shortages of eggs and oil throughout 2023, with supermarkets forced to ration tomatoes and cucumbers due to poor weather in southern Europe in February.

    Prof Elliott, who chaired the government inquiry into the 2013 horsemeat scandal said, “My expectation is, as we’ve already seen in 2023 with some empty supermarket shelves for months, this will become more persistent as we go forward.”

    “It’ll be about affordability but also availability, and the likelihood of empty shelves, particularly fresh produce shelves, in 2024 is alarmingly high,” he said.

    The food security expert said the potential shortages were caused by food insecurity in other countries, climate change and transportation issues. He also criticised the Government for a lack of a long-term plan and said the UK’s agricultural industry has collapsed.

    “We are virtually totally dependent on other countries for most of our fresh produce, our fruit and our vegetables. We were reasonably self-sufficient in dairy, we were reasonably self-sufficient in poultry and eggs. But that’s also on the decline now as a result of the collapse of the food industry or sectors of the food industry in the UK.”

    A 2021 food security report found that 46pc of food consumed in the UK in 2020 was imported.

    Eggs, dairy, meat and other “high-risk” items will all be subject to more health checks at the border from January 31, which could slow the supply of food into the UK, the Institute of Export and International Trade warned.

    Marco Forgione, of the Institute of Export & International Trade, said. “Whilst businesses in the UK are already getting used to checks on products going into the EU, the checks BTOM will introduce for EU goods coming the other way will be new.”

    “These new procedures will take some bedding in time, so there’s a risk we’ll see disruption to supplies of our favourite drinks and other food – which could lead to gaps in supermarket shelves.”

    British retailers also face shipping chaos in the Panama and Suez canals, which continues to threaten supplies of consumer goods including wine and iPhones.

    Two of the world’s biggest shipping companies confirmed on Friday (22) that they would stop sending vessels through the Red Sea as a result of rising tensions in the Middle East, while BP said it would stop sending oil through the region on Monday (25).

    AP Moller-Maersk and Maersk Tankers will avoid the trade route, meaning goods coming from Asia, including electronics, clothing and furnishings, may take weeks longer to arrive.

    The National Farmers’ Union horticulture and potatoes board chair Martin Emmet has called for targets on British food production.

    NFU President Minette Batters said, “We are asking for targets for British food production, just as the Government has rightly legislated for targets on the environment, green energy and climate change. Food has to be given the same status.”

    A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman said they did not recognise the claims and that the UK’s food chain is well equipped to deal with disruption.

    The spokesman stated, “We produce 60 per cent of all the food we need here in the UK – figures which have changed little over the last 20 years – and our farming reforms are designed to back British farmers and maintain domestic food production.”

    Latest

    McCain Foods acquires plant-based frozen food brand

    McCain Foods has acquired Strong Roots, a plant-based frozen...

    Vape restrictions in Tobacco and Vapes Bill undermine public health goals, says Responsible Vaping APPG

    Government should take a comprehensive evidence-based approach to vaping...

    SPAR South West partners with FareShare to fight hunger

    In the fight against food waste and hunger, SPAR...

    Don't miss

    McCain Foods acquires plant-based frozen food brand

    McCain Foods has acquired Strong Roots, a plant-based frozen...

    Vape restrictions in Tobacco and Vapes Bill undermine public health goals, says Responsible Vaping APPG

    Government should take a comprehensive evidence-based approach to vaping...

    SPAR South West partners with FareShare to fight hunger

    In the fight against food waste and hunger, SPAR...

    Major new Lucozade masterbrand platform unveiled

    Marking the biggest relaunch in Lucozade’s history, the brand...

    Post Office scandal: Ex-boss apologises for ‘subbies with hand in the till’ comment

    A former boss at the Post Office said he will “regret for the rest of his life” writing in an email suggesting “subbies with...

    McCain Foods acquires plant-based frozen food brand

    McCain Foods has acquired Strong Roots, a plant-based frozen food manufacturer based in Ireland. The move builds on a deal announced in 2021 that saw...

    Vape restrictions in Tobacco and Vapes Bill undermine public health goals, says Responsible Vaping APPG

    Government should take a comprehensive evidence-based approach to vaping regulation, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Responsible Vaping has said, ahead of Second Reading...